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1 M agriculture sector workers may lose jobs due to El Niño

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) has called on the national government to draw up contingency plans for about 800,000 to one million agriculture sector workers who stand to lose their jobs within the next six months of an intensified El Niño dry spell. 

The largest labor group in the country said the workers should be included in the livelihood and assistance programs of the government and in the mitigation plans being drawn by various national and local government offices. 

“We urge the government to include in their mitigation plans the agriculture sector workers who may be rendered jobless due to the intense weather phenomenon,” said Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU). “These type of workers suffer a double whammy because not only do they lose their livelihood and income, they also suffer as consumers.” 

Seno said the group supports the call of Sen. Francis Escudero, who last Friday urged the national government to create an inter-agency task force that will draw a roadmap to better cope with El Niño. 

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) records showed that as of April, there are 11.4 million workers in the agriculture sector, down by 400,000 from 2014’s 11.8 million. These workers include those engaged in hunting, forestry and fishing. 

Alan Tanjusay, TUCP-Nagkaisa spokesman, projected a rapid employment decline in the agriculture sector starting at the onset of El Niño as he also cited a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) record that showed a 0.37 percent contraction in employments relating to the agriculture sector during the second quarter of this year.

The decline is largely attributed to the intense heat, which affected the crops and fisheries sub-sectors.

 “Our agriculture workers, particularly in the rural areas, are underpaid. That is why the sector always had the highest underemployment incidence. We do not see the agricultural workers in the government’s El Niño rescue plan,” Tanjusay said.

 The TUCP-Nagkaisa also quoted data that showed a steady decline in the number of workers in the agricultural sector starting from 12.2 million in 2011, 12 million in 2012, 11.83 million in 2013 and 11.8 million last year.

 In July this year, the group said unemployment in the sector rose to a total of 755,000 workers.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) secretary-general and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan blamed the onset of El Niño as causing the rise of unemployment in the sector.

 The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said 58 percent of the country is experiencing the effects of El Niño, and that this could increase to 85 percent in February 2016.

 The provinces heavily affected by the phenomenon include Quirino, Aurora, Quezon, Bohol, Siquijor, Camiguin and Misamis Oriental. – With Mayen Jaymalin

ACIRC

ALAN TANJUSAY

ASSOCIATED LABOR UNIONS

ATILDE

BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS

CAMIGUIN AND MISAMIS ORIENTAL

EL NI

NAGKAISA

NBSP

SECTOR

WORKERS

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